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An Anthropological Enquiry into Notions of 'Empowment' in a Digital Age

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Hana Mori, Anthropology Student at University College London.
Presentation to JISC/ELESIG Symposium on 26 March 2014

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An Anthropological Enquiry into Notions of 'Empowment' in a Digital Age

  1. 1. DIGITAL LITERACIES An Anthropological Enquiry into Notions of „Empowerment‟ in a Digital Age Hana Mori UCL BSc Anthropology 3rd Year Digital Literacies Officer, E-Learning Environments ISD UCL hana.mori.11@ucl.ac.uk
  2. 2. My Background  Visual Communications, Foundation Degree Chelsea College of Art & Design  BSc Anthropology 3rd Year  Digital Literacies Officer, E-Learning Environments Information Services Division  Interested in Policy Design and International Development
  3. 3. Introduction - What are we trying to achieve through digital literacies? - What is the wider context? - How are students responding to it? - A Digital University?
  4. 4. Methodology  Participant Observation  Discourse Analysis  Interviews  No Moral Evaluation
  5. 5. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  6. 6. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  7. 7. The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World • Overthrown business models, • The economy, • Analytical models, • Citizenship • Sociality • Knowledge “ People around the world feel the winds of multidimensional social change without truly understanding it, let alone feeling a grasp upon the process of change ” Castells, 2000
  8. 8. A Beautiful Future  Technology = Progress  Desirable  Video: Internet.org The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdWaZkvAJfM
  9. 9. “We… declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.” (United Nations, 2003:1, my own emphasis) The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World
  10. 10. Internet: Democratizing, Equalising To have VOICE = EXIST Increased communication  WORLD PEACE Digital Skills for Development
  11. 11. The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World Digital Divide: Full of risk and opportunities
  12. 12. Naturalized Digital Revolution  Historical Outcome  Evolution  Progress The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World
  13. 13. What does this mean?  We embrace the Digital Revolution,  We embrace Change,  Becomes our Reality. The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World
  14. 14. In Summary…  The vision of the digital revolution is very attractive.  It conjures universal values.  It has been naturalized.  It is thrilling and encourages participation. The Digital Revolution: A way of Seeing the World
  15. 15. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  16. 16. Digital Skills for Development “Each person should have the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in order to understand, participate actively in, and benefit fully from, the Information Society and the knowledge economy. Literacy and universal primary education are key factors for building a fully inclusive information society.” (United Nations, 2003)
  17. 17.  Who are we targeting?  Vulnerable and Marginalized  in the EU: “people aged 65 to 74 years old, people on low incomes, the unemployed and the less educated.” (European Commission 2010:25) Digital Skills for Development
  18. 18. What are we trying to achieve? “I think it’s inherently flawed to try and teach literacy. In language, it’s like the bare minimum, it really is an insult. It’s like being digitally illiterate means you don’t understand anything about computers I suppose. Digitally literate is really the bare minimum.” Donald, from 18/10/13 ELE focus group Digital Skills for Development
  19. 19. In Summary…  Basic Human Right to Participate  Digital Literacy = entry ticket to Digital Society  „Empowerment‟ is being included
  20. 20. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  21. 21. Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship UCL Entrepreneurship Society Cookies & Coding, October 2013 148 people attended. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKIu9yen5nc
  22. 22. Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship
  23. 23. “Empowering” “About helping people” “Amazing” “Humbling” “Wizards of the future” “closest thing we have to superpowers” “coders are today’s rock stars” Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship
  24. 24. Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship THE EPIC GOAL: To be a Part of the “NEXT BIG THING” How? WORK – ETHIC “Everyone has a million dollar idea, but only the top 0.5% actually go through with it” “if you hit your head against the wall hard enough and at the right angle, you can do practically anything” “You can replace any skill with the skill of learning fast”
  25. 25.  UK is a facilitator rather than a catalyst  Give OPPORTUNITIES  Provide a VISION Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship
  26. 26. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  27. 27.  Learning Skills ≠ Using Skills  Identity building  Community of Practice, Social Capital  A sense of Belonging  Not a Causal Relationship Reconsidering the Role of the University
  28. 28. Reconsidering the Role of the University “You can replace any skill with the skill of learning fast”  Not about transforming our students  But allowing them to transform
  29. 29. Reconsidering the Role of the University
  30. 30. Content  The Digital Revolution: A Way of Understanding the World  Digital Literacies for Development?  Case Study: Coding & Entrepreneurship  Reconsidering the Role of University  Conclusions
  31. 31. CONCLUSIONS  The Digital Revolution provides an EPIC GOAL  „Empowerment‟ is PARTICIPATION  Limits to the Institution‟s Influence  Act as a FACILITATOR, not a CATALYST
  32. 32. Thank You.
  33. 33. Questions? Hana Mori UCL BSc Anthropology 3rd Year Digital Literacies Officer, ELE ISD UCL hana.mori.11@ucl.ac.uk

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